Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and ev’rywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

This African-American carol had been sung for generations before John Work wrote several stanzas to it in 1907. He was a graduate of Fisk University, a black community college in Nashville, Tennessee. He wrote this for the university’s Jubilee Singers, as part of a fundraising program for the university. John and his brother Frederick researched, collected, and musically arranged African spirituals, many of which communities all over the world sing today.

Like other Christmas carols, this hymn expresses the jubilation of the angels as they tell the Bethlehem shepherds the good news of Christ’s birth. It’s a wonderful song which simply tells the story that Jesus is the Savior of our lives and God’s Holy Son.

Points to ponder

What other African-American spirituals do I know? How have those songs helped to develop my faith?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to spread Your Gospel through what we say, sing, and do. In Your Holy Name, we cheerfully pray. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s Nativity drawings called ‘African Manger.’ To view a larger version, click here.

You can listen to Mahalia Jackson, the great gospel singer and civil rights activist, sing this powerful spiritual on YouTube: